Federal Government is Weak-Minded on CETA Deal

from nfu.ca: The National Farmers Union wonders whether the Federal Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries promoting the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement across Canada today have actually read the text of the agreement? Or did they simply memorize pre-digested talking points? The devil is in the details. Canadians want to know the actual content and implications of this agreement, which is being negotiated behind closed doors. Instead we are being sold a load of weak-minded hype. The NFU has obtained leaked copies of the draft CETA text at several stages of the negotiations and has analyzed each one from the point of view of agriculture, food and farmers. It has become clear that CETA is not so much about removing trade barriers – few exist between Canada and Europe – but more about limiting the power of elected governments to prevent them from making laws that would restrict global corporations, and to ensure that these corporations will have permanent economic and legal advantages over individual citizens and independent businesses. We know that CETA is not necessary and that trade with Europe will certainly continue without the deal. CETA is the first international “trade deal” that would require provincial and local governments to comply with its conditions. In public procurement contracts above specific (fairly low) minimums CETA would prohibit cities, towns, villages, schools, universities and hospitals from giving preferential treatment to local businesses for the supply of goods and services and for construction projects. The very people whose tax dollars will be spent on public procurement will thus be forced to compete with large European corporations for their own town or city’s business. Local food programs would also be jeopardized as a result of this condition, destroying an important economic opportunity for farmers, especially young and new farmers. CETA’s investor protection measures eliminate government’s ability to restrict the movement of capital, so that Canada would not be able to restrict foreign ownership, and could no longer address balance of payments issues – a key tool in monetary policy. CETA includes draconian measures to enforce intellectual property rights, such as plant breeders’ rights and seed patents. If a seed company such as Bayer or Monsanto suspected a farmer of violating a seed patent, it could get the courts to seize the farmer’s seed, land, equipment and bank accounts before any wrong-doing was proven. Third parties that were suspected of helping the farmer in his or her alleged breach would also be subject to the same precautionary seizure measures. Stripped of their assets, the accused would then have no means to defend themselves. In addition, CETA calls for prison terms for people found violating certain intellectual property rights.

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